Mid-Week Intermission Artist Edition: Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf

Nobody embodies creativity quite like Jimmy LaValle, who you might know better as The Album Leaf. Creating and recreating new sounds is what he’s known for, so we caught up with him ahead of his performance at lookOUT Fest to find out what’s new (so much, including an EP!) and what it was like reimagining one of Album Leaf’s most popular albums for its 20th anniversary.

LOOKOUT FEST 👉 This all day indoor-outdoor fest is coming up September 3rd! Come explore the lookOUT Fest Vendor Market for free and then grab a ticket for the 6-band music lineup feauring The Album Leaf, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Mary Lattimore, and so much more.

MEET JIMMY LAVALLE of THE ALBUM LEAF
Photo by Michael Raines

Long Center: We’re so excited to have you as a part of the inaugural lookOUT Fest lineup! Rumor has it that you’ve played in Austin once or twice already. Is that true? Any special memories here?

Jimmy: I have been playing in Austin regularly since the late ’90s. So, yes, I’ve been here once or twice 😊 I think the most special memories are with the friends I’ve made here throughout the years. The American Analog Set crew — we’ve toured together, gone to Taiwan together. My first official booking agent was from Austin, Courtney Cooper (Slip Productions), there are countless SXSW performances, Sub Pop showcases, changing a broken Rhodes tine on stage at Emo’s mid-show. Many, many good times have been had here. I love the city.

Long Center: Reading your touring history is so fascinating. Capping everything off with celebrating the 20th anniversary of One Day I’ll Be On Time in the midst of the pandemic, do you have any favorite career moments from the last two decades? What made you decide to reimagine this particular album at this time?

Jimmy: Anniversaries are special, and tricky to celebrate. I’d like to think I’ve grown as an artist over the last 20+ years, so the idea of recreating a record I made in my early 20s was exciting. I didn’t want to fix any mistakes per se, I just thought I could bring my years of production experience to celebrate the record in a new way. Typically, bands will go out and play the record front to back. I’ve never been interested in that. I think it’s more exciting to revisit it and see what new twist you can put on something.

Long Center: You include so many different instruments and electronics in your music. Do you have a favorite or even a top three? Any specific type that you’d recommend as the best tool for new electronic music makers?

Jimmy: I’m immediately drawn to synthesizers and creating new sounds. I also do a lot of sampling of sounds I create to further manipulate the sound. I’m really interested in creating something new, even if it’s a standard sine wave — what you can do on the other end creates something fresh.

I fell in love with the sound of a Rhodes piano when I first played one back in the late ’90s. I’ve had the same Rhodes since then and it’s made an appearance on every record. Since my sound has changed and progressed through the years, I’ve moved on from playing it live, using a Nord instead because I run a lot of midi messaging in the show, trigginger sounds I’ve created from multi-sampling. But in general, I’ve always loved and gravitated toward the sound of acoustic analog instruments mixed with electronics.

Long Center: This season we’ve been encouraging our readers to get back out there and give into their curiosity to discover new artists, hobbies, art, or cool things in the neighborhood.

What have you been curious about? What will you explore next — in your music, in your own backyard, anything?

Jimmy: I’ve stayed away from modular synthesis for many years and now I’m diving in. It’s been something I’ve always been curious about, but when it became really popular over the last decade, there was a lot of noise being made. There’s beauty in that but I really look to create melody. I’ve discovered many exciting records and artists over the pandemic that have really inspired me to step into that space. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

Long Center: Any new projects or albums in the works that you can share with us?

Jimmy: I’ve been working on a new record for a really long time. Every time I make solid headway and can see the finish line, I’ll be offered a film to score so that sets me back with its deadline. Then during the scoring process, I create new sounds that I get really excited about, so I go back to the body of work I was ready to release and start to work on it again. I’m nearing the end again 😊

But, I’m on two films currently that will release over in 2023. I also will release my score to Something in the Dirt, the last film I scored that will release in theaters this October, I believe. So, new music will be coming, just not a proper Album Leaf record until 2023. But I will start to release a series of singles coming up soon. Finally sharing new music! I also just released an EP a week ago, called Past and Future Tense.

Long Center: Could you give us a little tease about what you’ll be playing at lookOUT Fest?

Jimmy: Well, expect a typical Album Leaf show that will include visual eye candy along with selections from the last 20 years. And you might just hear something new, too!

lookOUT - KUTX & AC

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